Arthur Hereward Livingston

Lance Corporal
Regimental number: 
Unit at enlistment: 
5th Overseas Universities Company
Volunteered or conscripted: 
Survived the war: 
Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Commemorated at: 
Victoria Public School Honour Roll
Birth country: 
Birth county: 
Birth city: 
Hamilton, Ontario
Address at enlistment: 
88 Brant Avenue, Brantford, Ontario
Next of kin address: 
88 Brant Avenue, Brantford, Ontario
Trade or calling: 
Religious denominations: 
Marital status: 
Age at enlistment: 

Letters and documents

BX August 16, 1916

Buried Three Times by “Rum Jars” Still Alive – Thrilling Story of Brantford Boy’s Escapes – Buried Three Times Up to Neck with Shells Bursting Around His Head – Lost Hearing

"It was just an act of Providence that I escaped," writes Private Arthur Livingston of the Princess Pats in a letter home giving particulars of his injuries. Few have had such an exciting escapade as “Art” and are alive today to tell the tale. Buried three times all but his head by "rum-jars,"  very powerful explosives, to see others coming straight at him and being powerless to move, it is small wonder that he is suffering from shell shock, and indeed an act of Providence that he is living and able to write and tell of his experiences. Although he is still deaf he is now back with the rest of the boys. The letter states that Ray Hawkins has been taken back to the hospital to be operated on for appendicitis.

The letter, which gives a vivid description of what men are called upon to face in everyday life is as follows:
Dear People,
I hope the whizz-bang I sent from the hospital has not caused you any undue worry, but this is the first chance I have had to write a little to relieve your minds. I won't go so far as to say I am all right, but there is now no need for worry as I am getting along nicely and am now back with the rest of the boys.

Apart from myself I fear poor Ray has met with a little misfortune. He came through the little ordeal in the trenches O.K., so I hear, but yesterday was taken back to the hospital to be operated on for appendicitis. Of course what I have heard about his case leaves it very vague in my mind, but I guess the poor kid has done some suffering and we are all pulling strong for him. I expect I shall be able to give you better information regarding him later on, and in the meantime we shall hope that it is not as serious as I hear.

We expect to go back where we were when we first came to France in a day or so, and if I can wire from there I shall do so. I suppose you have heard by now that I and Brant saw each other for a short time before I came up, and I now can tell you about having seen him again, but I shall first proceed to tell you of my experience up in the trenches.

One night our bombers pulled off a little assault on Fritz, and according to the sounds of things I guess the Hun had a few casualties, as it was none too comfortable in our own trench, let alone in theirs. Well the next night Fritzie evidently took it into his head to come back and he did. The excitement started early and trench mortars, rifle grenades, rum jars and sausages assembled about our trenches in large numbers. Having seen trench mortars and rifle grenades before and still having respect for them, however, my mind was occupied with these rum jars and sausages which are "some pumpkins," in the language of the classics. The one beauty of them, if it can be considered such, is that they can be seen. Well during proceedings we managed to dodge about two dozen of these bally things and then, to keep in training, I ran a dead heat with one. Unfortunately I misjudged it and we arrived simultaneously at the same spot. After a momentary argument we decided to go right ahead with the burial and hold the funeral after. Thereupon every available sand bag, etc., in the vicinity fell on me and buried me, all but my head. I won't try to explain my feelings, as I am sure I could not, but I had some nevertheless. A rum jar has the power of making a loud noise, a big hole and various other accomplishments, and when all these are completed it throws stones for half an hour. Being buried is not a nice sensation in itself; but it was not improved any by the conditions.

Fortunately a couple of the boys got shovels and started to dig me out, but before they had me half uncovered the second edition of the rum jar was seen approaching. The diggers ran, but I could not budge, and I thought my last day had come. I don't know yet how I escaped, but I closed my eyes and waited and I was again buried, but still alive. The diggers came back and started again. Again they had me half uncovered and the same thing happened again. It was just an act of Providence that I escaped, but I am still here. They dug again, and along with the help of Lieut. Mitchener they pulled me out.
I was in full control of my senses for about ten minutes after, and the strafing had died down. I went down to get a bayonet and saw another rum jar burst quite a way from me, but it sent me off my trolley and I wilted. I was put in a dugout where I slept soundly, I don't know how long, but I dimly remember being taken out to the dressing station and then to the hospital in the ambulance.

I have not been wounded at all, but just badly beaten up and suffering from concussion and shell shock. I was treated wonderfully at the hospital, and the meals were the best. I am now back with the boys, with just a little earache and general dizziness, but Lieut. Haggard is trying to keep me from having to go on these working parties. I don't feel quite equal to that yet, to tell the truth. My nerves are not quite up to the mark yet, but I hope they get better instead of worse. I think I would just about collapse if I heard a lady firecracker go off now, but as I am quite deaf there is small chance of me hearing it.

When I got back here last night I was greatly relieved to find that the boys had saved most of my stuff.

A couple of my pals were killed and our platoon sergeant, who was a peach. Our company suffered rather heavily, but we shall soon be having a rest.

I saw Brant and Doug Jones just before I came up last night. Both are looking well. I received the underwear and mother's letter with thanks.

I'm about all in now, so shall wait till I feel a little better before I write again. I'll feel better if you don't worry, so just forget it. Love to all,
Your loving son,

BX October 10, 1916

Escaped Without Scratch

His brother, Arthur, for whose safety Private Brant had more concern than he had for his own was in the action, but came through without a scratch. He wrote home shortly before his brother, as follows:

September 21, 1916

Somewhere in France

I don’t suppose I shall be allowed to tell you very much about our last time in, but no doubt the Canadian papers will help me out. Perhaps you will know all about our doings before this reaches you, but I can tell you something about my own personal feelings.

The war is much more interesting to the soldiers down here as there is something doing most of the time and there is some satisfaction in being in the said doings. Our battalion was very successful in the task set aside for it, and I believe the Canadians on the whole are doing very good work.

I haven’t seen Brant since he has been in, and can’t say whether he is O.K. or not, but I shall try to find out about him as soon as possible. I hope he came through the action all right. I am glad to say that I am quite well, and never got scratched even though I am minus several friends. Little Hop Miller of whom you probably heard me speak, was a victim and you couldn’t find a better little soldier in the war. He was a great little kid and we are all sorry he was hit, but unfortunately, some of us had to get it.

On coming out we had a large draft from Harvey’s gang and he and Doug and Jack McClung are now with us.

I have heard indirectly that Sid Saunders is getting his discharge, as he will limp for a couple of years. Some of the muscles have been taken from the back of his leg, so he will not be able to get back. Here’s good luck to him, anyway.

This last affair of ours has got everything beaten for excitement so for as in my military career, and I am pleased to state that I have at last seen a living Fritz and have also fired a flock of bullets through my “trusty: (machine gun). I won’t brag about hitting any, but possibly I might have scared some to death. I never knew I would enjoy pot shooting so much, but I took great delight in trying to bean the Germs. Incidentally we took quite a number of prisoners who seemed quite ready to surrender. They will fight till you get close to them and then toss up the sponge. I have a pretty fair idea that little Willie’s army is just about on the blink, although his artillery is still going strong. However, as we have what is known as the air supremacy in this neck of the woods he has to guess for the most part where he is shooting.

All we can see from the trenches or shell holes, as is the case sometimes, is about umpteen English aeroplanes soaring around overhead, as though they were out for a picnic. Poor Fritz, he is just out of luck and then some.

You have already heard about the surprise they sprung on the old boy in the way of the land boats. They are some skiffs all right, and can sure play hob with the infantry. They are going to be quite a factor in the winning of the war without doubt, and I would like to see them cut loose.

I hear they have already done several humorous stunts, and will no doubt get away with a few more before we call the dog off. You won’t need to worry about who is gong to win the war as our dear friend William hasn’t got the ghost of a show.

Our battalion upheld traditions by making a healthy advance but just where I am afraid I shall have to leave to your conjecture. It didn’t take us many moons to do it either. Although we had quite a number of casualties, mostly “Blighties.”

It was amusing in spite of the danger to see a big bunch of the Fritzies stick their heads up over the trench, and when the guns started working up went their hands and over they came. Nearly all of them knew two English words at least, “Mercy, comrade.”  I heard one guy getting “Peace” off his chest, too, but I guess he was sick of war.

Souvenirs were thick, but I didn’t care much about lugging German helmets around with me, or anything else except a couple of buttons and a whistle I took from one of the prisoners going through. I hope you got the knife I sent you long ago.
I don’t think I will be able to write very much, so tell Hilda to explain to my friends that there’s a war on over here and I am doing my best to keep in touch with them all.

Your loving son,

BX February 17, 1917

Hardships But to be Recalled – Pte. A.H. Livingston Says Every Soldier Grouches, But Soon Forgives – A Wet Night on Somme

Interesting experiences on the Somme are related by Pte. A.H. Livingston in writing to his father, Magistrate W.C. Livingston. He writes:

Dear Dad,

It seems only natural that you would like to get bright and cheery letters from us out here, and I quite often wonder how it is that although we do an awful bunch of grouching, it is only skin deep. Of course it can’t be expected to see everything going right in the army, and quite often things go wrong, but the pessimistic feeling only lasts about five minutes after the said thing. Strange, but what we call hardships at the time are the things we like to talk about after.

For an example I might tell you a little experience we had on the Somme. Of course, as usual, the weather often has a lot to do with our so called “hard times.”  Well, we had just come out after our first trip, which you have heard about. We marched back and bivouacked on the side of a hill. Well, it rained – not sprinkled, but rained. Our gun crew had a fine time of it trying to make a makeshift tent out of our rubber sheets and push carts. It was some tent and about as rainproof as a lace handkerchief. We tried to find room for all underneath, but it was some trouble. I made room for “little Willie” under the cart, but couldn’t move around at all. I might now add that it was cold and then some and there was not a great deal of dry wood lying around. Well, you can see that sooner or later we would get wet, only this time it was sooner. The water just poured in through the tent and underneath and we were soaked to the skin and consequently cold. You also know how your loving son likes the cold. We hadn’t slept for two nights before, and I don’t need to say that we did not sleep that night. One after another we would crawl out into the rain and walk around to try to get warm. About twelve that night there was no one left in the “Bivy,” and we were parading around on the hill. Everything we owned was soaked through including our packs. Well, when morning came I was right on the job when the rum came around. That was once when I did roll up for my issue. It kept on raining till up around nine o’clock, and we were just about peeved enough to give vent to our feelings in the purest of “Etats Unis” when an Imperial band opened up with “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile.”  We got the fever and instead of the sky-blue Anglo-Saxon we hit up the tune and everybody was as gay as a lark. It may have been that we were too sore to keep from smiling, but right to this day you will hear the fellows talk about that day or night. It seems funny, but I distinctly remember being called for sitting on the damp grass at home, with the threat that I’d get pneumonia or some of those unknown diseases. Strange none of us seemed to suffer any ill effects from that.

Well things like that are quite common, and when I get back before a coal fire in the drawing room at 88, you can give me the floor and I’ll tell you lots of things like that, and say “Them was the days.”  It will certainly be great when we can look back on those days. To tell the truth I don’t take a great deal of pleasure in looking forward to them. If I were to keep on telling you about all the things like that, that get our goat the war would be over by the time I finished. You can take it from me that I swallow this rough stuff as hard as anyone, and if I get the dirty work you’ll hear me murmur, but all the same we soon forgive and forget and can pull the cast-iron smile when it’s wanted. Any way it ought to be an army regulation that a soldier can grouch when there is a reason for it, which is most of the time, but the guy who can’t get over it does not amount to much. Accordingly “little Arthur” has forgiven past performances and is on the job to kick about what is to come. It is not hard to smile, and besides, rain trickling down your neck and mud to your knees won’t ruin your career. At present I am feeling well with a slight cold, and I’ll bet my two quid I can go out and wallow in the mud for a couple of hours and get soaked through and then laugh as hard as anyone at a Charlie Chaplin picture show, and that’s no idle dream. I would not have to go outside to get wet either, as I could do that by lying down straight in my bed. As it is I do the corkscrew glide and dodge the water where it drips. Bruce Bairnsfather has the right idea in his “Fragments of France,” and I suppose you’ve seen that.   

You might be led to believe that everything goes wrong in the army. Well a guy could have a rotten time if he felt that way about it, but we have it figured out that life is what we make it, and I could sit down and tell you for months about the good times we have had even in the front line. If you get any mail from this child that leads you to believe that I am going in for undertaking you will know that I’m off my nut or the sun’s gone out. You can just sit over there and realize that although this is not as enjoyable as sporting your lady friend to the movies or beating the burr off Galt in rugby, we do have a little fun occasionally.

BX January 21, 1918 

Grateful for Christmas Gifts – Letters from Men Overseas Read at Brant Avenue Methodist Church

At Brant Avenue Methodist Church on Sunday morning, Mr. T. Harry Jones read by request a number of letters received from members of the congregation now overseas, in reply to the Christmas remembrances sent by the congregation. 

December 24, 1917
C/O 34 Bedford Place
London, Eng.

My Dear Major,

I hope you will do your best to convey my feeling of appreciation to Brant Avenue Church for their kindness in remembering me so fittingly this Christmas. Their gift arrived safely yesterday and I’m sure it is a great honor to be so well looked after by those at home. I might say I think the card enclosed is an ideal thought and I’m sure I shall prize it highly as it is the first time I have seen what it looks like.

I’m glad to say that I expect to have a much more agreeable Christmas this year than I had last year, as I intend to spend a couple of days special leave with my brother Hugh and his wife at Godalming. I have secured the necessary leave and am now waiting patiently till the time comes. I trust that my brother Brant also will be able to get down there, so that we may all be together for the day at least. 

Shortly after Christmas I am going back to hospital at Orpington for another operation on my foot, and I expect that will keep me out of action for a week or two, but as Brant is at Orpington I shall not feel as lonely as in my previous hospital experience.

While we are trying to enjoy ourselves in England this Christmas I hope that my chums still out in France will be able to enjoy the day in peace and quiet behind the lines and also that our well wishers over in Canada will have a very merry Christmas in spite of all the events against it and that next year we may all be able to be together once more in Canada.

Now, Major, I leave it to you to thank the Brotherhood and the members of Brant Avenue Church for the kindness they have shown to me and the appreciation they have of the small bit I have been able to do in this Great War.

I sincerely thank you one and all and hope that we shall all be able to uphold the honor of the church in this war till it is ended victoriously for us.

Sincerely yours,

Arthur H. Livingston

BX August 9, 1916

Has Shell Shock

Mrs. W.C. Livingston yesterday received a card from her son, Pte. Art Livingston, of the Princess Pats, stating that he was in the hospital suffering from shell shock. No further particulars were given, but as the card was written by Art himself his friends are living in hopes that the trouble is not of a very serious nature. 

BX August 11, 1916

Is Doing Nicely

Although no further particulars in connection with the injuries of Private Art Livingston of the Princess Pats, who was a few days ago reported as suffering from shell shock have come to hand, a letter received by Mr. Coleman from Ray Hawkins mentions Art as getting on nicely. It is thought that the letter was written about the same time as the card which brought the first news of Art’s injury to the family here.

BX September 4, 1917

Word was received yesterday by Magistrate Livingston and Mrs. Livingston that their son, Private Arthur Livingston has been reported wounded in the hand and foot. He was a member of the Princess Pats and had seen much heavy fighting before being wounded. The family to date has had one son killed and two sons wounded.

Implying that his wounds were not serious a short cablegram was received this morning by Police Magistrate Livingston from his son Lance-Corp. Arthur H. Livingston, who was yesterday reported suffering from gunshot wounds in the foot and knee. The cablegram just briefly stated “Are not serious.”  A letter was also received this morning from the injured son, to which he gave a description of a baseball game in which he participated. A letter was also received yesterday, and in this he spoke of getting leave after 18 months continuous duty and expected to take out a commission.

BX April 12, 1993

Arthur Hereward Livingston

LIVINGSTON, Arthur H., Westwood, MS. – Arthur H. Livingston died Friday, April 2, 1993 in Norwood Hospital, in his 98th year.  Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Mr. Livingston was a 1921 graduate of the University of Toronto.  For 34 years he had lived in Westwood.  Mr. Livingston was an Agricultural Engineer for many years for Stone and Webster in Boston, retiring in 1959.  Husband of the late Mabel (Bartle) Livingston.  He leaves his daughter, Doris Doull of Westwood and Audrey Hickey of New York, three granddaughters and two great-grandchildren.  A funeral Mass was celebrated Tuesday, April 6 at 11 a.m. in St. John’s Episcopal Church in Westwood.  Donations may be made to the Alzheimer Association of Easter MA. 1 Kendall Square Cambridge, MA 02139 or to the above named church, 9 Deerfield Avenue, Westwood.